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Education / Michael Gove


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#21 ckn

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 09:08 AM

I'm completely convinced that school leaver standards are the fault of government interference, for the reasons listed above, and parents with teachers having a secondary responsibility.  As a child, I was encouraged at home to read and there was a definite involvement in my education rather than a complete abdication of responsibility to the school as I've seen some parents do now.

 

There's a new school near us that was one of only three built by the Labour initiative (can't remember the name if it) to provide top end educational facilities.  That was canned immediately by the Tories.  The school is an utter marvel with everything you could possibly want from a sixth-form college.  The science labs are fantastic, the facilities were future-proofed for 10+ years to allow quick upgrading for new technologies, they even have a mechanical engineering workshop with equipment that many good garages would envy.  The only thing that hinders the school is that the management are given conflicting directions from central government and council level so often that they cannot plan for an entire academic year without major disruption.  I genuinely think that if the school were left alone for a few years that they'd be providing school leavers with a skill set that would be the envy of Britain.  One of their senior teachers said to me just after it opened that his greatest concern for leavers is that they'd be going to universities that had generations old facilities and the students could be disillusioned by their quality.


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#22 tonyXIII

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 10:30 AM

I  have worked it out. Time to change GCSE's.

 

Make kids realise that they are in education so that they can get a job  or get into university. I took one seventeen-year-old girl who had left the sixth form before A levels to switch to a vocational course (social-work I think) at Bradford College. She said she didn't like her course and actually wanted to work in forensic science. She hadn't even got a decent GCSE Science qualification, so I got her look up the entry requirements on the internet. It was obvious she couldn't get in. She ended up, like so many, on the agency-worker grind, working primarily as a call-centre worker. She's about twenty two now and has had a baby so she will struggle to start a proper career for another few years. 

 

I don't know whether the education system let her down or whether she let down the education system but, either way the system failed.

 

 

There was one idiot on breakfast tv yesterday saying that the current teaching system, whilst not reinforcing  grammar, allowed children a greater 'freedom of expression'. Well, as far as I am concerned, and it no doubt applies to everyone else who these kids are hoping will offer them a job, their first priority is to do my work properly to a professional standard and then they can express themselves in their own time.

 

If they can't do basic office work, they shouldn't expect to get a job. Not unless it's as a free-form journalist, poet and author ... and, fair play, there's always hundreds of those vacancies advertised every week in the Bradford Telegraph and Argus.

 

 

If expressing yourself is so vital to the current teaching regime, how come all the great writers  managed to do so despite having the crippling handicap of a traditional education?

 

Thanks for the response, Wolford. I agree with much of what you say, though I would say that "expressing yourself" is a skill people need, for example, in a job interview, but they also need to know and understand the structure and meanings within our language.

 

As far as the girl who wanted to work in forensic science goes, I do wonder how she has come to have such a mismatch between expectation and ability. I guess she's now had the reality check she needed.

 

Finally, you say "Time to change GCSEs" and I wouldn't disagree, but I would advise caution on time scale. Too often, such changes have been rushed in before their failings have been discovered. Perhaps it is time to start planning for a change to be implemented in 5 to 10 years time. Get it right first, then put it out there. (I do understand that there are reasons to rush such changes through - today's 16 year-olds deserve to have the chance of an improved GCSE just as much as the 16 year-olds in 5-10 years.)


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#23 T Dub

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 02:48 PM

Because that's how the world works.  Young people aren't the finished article when they're dropped into the world of work.
 
Perhaps you should just hire someone older with more experience, if that's what you actually need.

Last week a young woman in front of me in the queue in the butchers was asking for directions on how to get to 'a big building called the White Something'

We suggested what we could but she had little else to give us a clue, and nothing written down

Finally we worked out it was a pub in a village 3 miles away, so I walked her to the bus station and put her on a bus that went past the door

She was in the wrong town, didnt know the name of the right town or how to get there or the name of her potential employer. Nothing like being prepared for an interview...

#24 Northern Sol

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 03:44 PM

As far as the girl who wanted to work in forensic science goes, I do wonder how she has come to have such a mismatch between expectation and ability. I guess she's now had the reality check she needed.

Blame CSI.



#25 Methven Hornet

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 04:12 PM

Last week a young woman in front of me in the queue in the butchers was asking for directions on how to get to 'a big building called the White Something'

We suggested what we could but she had little else to give us a clue, and nothing written down

Finally we worked out it was a pub in a village 3 miles away, so I walked her to the bus station and put her on a bus that went past the door

She was in the wrong town, didnt know the name of the right town or how to get there or the name of her potential employer. Nothing like being prepared for an interview...

 

That reminds me of the time years ago when I was walking to the Blue Pits Inn in Castleton, Rochdale. This car pulled up and the driver asked me where the Cheshire Cheese Inn was. I thought to myself that I'd heard of that but not in Castleton - then it came to me.

I hope his date didn't mind waiting for an hour or so for him to drive to Castleton, Derbyshire!


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#26 JohnM

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Posted 15 May 2013 - 05:13 PM

Last week a young woman in front of me in the queue in the butchers was asking for directions on how to get to 'a big building called the White Something'

We suggested what we could but she had little else to give us a clue, and nothing written down

Finally we worked out it was a pub in a village 3 miles away, so I walked her to the bus station and put her on a bus that went past the door

She was in the wrong town, didnt know the name of the right town or how to get there or the name of her potential employer. Nothing like being prepared for an interview...


That's Hilary Clinton for you!

#27 John Drake

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 12:18 PM

New thread started to accomodate off topic posts from the Ed Miliband thread.


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#28 Severus

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 01:55 PM

I would like to comment on the GCSE,s and FULL MARKS to Gove for raising the standards under the last mob my 4 year old could have passed:)

My daughter last year managed 6 A,s and and a B and 3 of them were + in decent subjects as well english/spanish/history etc,i only hope that they now mean something:)

CM

 

Erm, does anyone want to tell him?


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#29 gingerjon

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 02:55 PM

Erm, does anyone want to tell him?

I'm just amazed they got GCSE papers in Moscow.
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#30 JohnM

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 03:11 PM

I'm amazed you are amazed, for it is true!

#31 gingerjon

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 03:15 PM

I'm amazed you are amazed, for it is true!

Amazing!
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#32 Maximus Decimus

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 05:29 PM

Whenever issues like grammar and spelling come up people are always very quick to criticise teachers, parents, governments etc but nobody ever mentions the huge changes in society that we've seen over the last generation. The fact is that our children have very different experiences than we did growing up and I was born only 29 years ago. We have to accept the effect that technology has had on standards of grammar and spelling. Children read less, write less and place a far lower importance on these things. They spend the majority of their free time using some form of technology be it computers, consoles, TV's etc. What did we do in comparison growing up? We played outside, we created games and we interacted. We also read a lot more. The importance of these things cannot be understated. Anybody that has ever taught children, especially those that struggle, will tell you that there is very little that can be learned if it is only practised for a few hours a week.

 

I'm not a huge fan of Gove, his Primary history curriculum is absolutely shocking but he isn't all bad. Rather than simply criticise teachers he has at least acknowledged that a large number of children are arriving unready for school. Far too many people overemphasise the effect that the education system can have. The sad reality is that the intelligence of a child has far more to do with their home life than with their school. I've said this before but in pretty much every class I've ever taught, the bright kids were from stable homes with working parents that were actively involved in their child's education. The kids that struggle almost always come from difficult homes where they have been brought up badly or the parents struggled as children themselves. There is not a teacher in the country that could create a Level 5 writer or mathematician out of some of the children that I have met. I've taught a girl that couldn't count to 15 by the time she was 8; I've taught a boy the same age that couldn't hold a conversation. Most children arrive at school aged 5 with this knowledge.

 

It's far too easy to blame the education system and sadly always comes from people with literally no understanding of the realities of school life. I've only taught for 4 years, so came to it later and I couldn't believe how different it was than I expected. Schools are often incredibly professional, teachers are heavily targetted and forced to justify on a regular basis why children haven't been moved on. Those children that have not moved on then take part in daily catch up sessions to make up the gap. There is constant scrutiny of what is working, what isn't and which children are not moving on.

 

I'm lucky because I taught in Northern Ireland for a year where things are far more traditional than they are over here. It is an education system that is far more like the one that most on here would be familiar. Much of their teaching is instruction and work from books with homework 4 times a week. Their kids were no brighter or less intelligent than ours but they did have a much less rounded education and would perform worse in critical thinking. In fact one of the brightest kids I ever met came from one of the worst schools I went in.  I also went in a school (all boys) that was easily the worst I've ever seen. I taught year 6 for a month and was giving them year 3 work but they still really struggled. The school simply wouldn't exist in England, Ofsted would have seen it closed down long ago.

 

At the end of Year 1 there is a phonics test that was introduced in 2011. Recently we had a staff meeting where they looked at all the statistics and it broke down the results into racial origin. This is a good indicator because many of these groups have cultural differences but all use the same education system with the same teachers and methods. They analysed the percentage of children that pass. Perhaps unsurprisingly Indian children performed best with 61% passing and Chinese children were not far behind on 60%. Only 49% of White British children passed. Worst of all, only 17% of travellers passed. There is far more to it than the quality of teaching.


Edited by Maximus Decimus, 16 May 2013 - 05:36 PM.


#33 Maximus Decimus

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 05:32 PM

I agree! He's obviously doing a good job when he has so called teachers up in arms! The problems in education fall at the feet of the teacher of this nation, but its always someone elses fault! The vast majority, I'm sure, are good people. The loud, vocal, opinionated large minority are a disgrace to their profession, and imo responsible, in part, for many of the social problems in this country!

 

What an utterly bizzare opinion.



#34 Steve May

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 09:26 PM

This is just it.

 

The government created a national curriculum to make sure that all schools taught more or less the same things. This was "a good thing".

 

Then a later government decided that the national curriculum didn't work and thus allowed some schools to opt out of it. This was "a good thing".

 

All schools must follow the national curriculum which is vital and necessary except for those schools who don't follow it for vital and necessary reasons.

 

It's worth pointing out that the current Education Secretary is a huge fan of the National Curriculum, to the extent that he has personally rewritten some of it with little or no outside help.   But he only wants it used in some of the schools.  For some reason his pet Academies and Free Schools do not have to use it, presumably because they can be trusted to buy the educational products sold by his personal donors  because they are run by his personal donors who are coining it in independently run schools regulated by the free market.

 

As you point out, all schools must follow the national curriculum which is vital and necessary except for those schools who don't follow it for vital and necessary reasons.


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#35 Steve May

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 09:27 PM

I agree! He's obviously doing a good job when he has so called teachers up in arms!

 

What an odd view on life.   That's just not how real people actually work.


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#36 JohnM

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 09:56 PM

Education is too important to be left just to teachers.   It is, however, far too important to be left just to politicians - of whatever leaning. 

 

It is also to me not just about the "what" but about the "how"

   

 

What young Maximus posts in his #35 does ring true. In my (limited) experience, modern yoof is far more self confident and worldly wise than it was in my day (!) but there does seem to be a lower general level of numeracy and literacy and for me these are vital capabilities that require a lot of attention. A kid that can't manipulate numbers is at a huge disadvantage these days and instead of saying  maths is not his forte as it were, the best contribution  would be to really focus on working with those kids.

 

So..numeracy, literacy, communications.



#37 Maximus Decimus

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Posted 17 May 2013 - 07:17 AM

Education is too important to be left just to teachers.   It is, however, far too important to be left just to politicians - of whatever leaning. 

 

It is also to me not just about the "what" but about the "how"

   

 

What young Maximus posts in his #35 does ring true. In my (limited) experience, modern yoof is far more self confident and worldly wise than it was in my day (!) but there does seem to be a lower general level of numeracy and literacy and for me these are vital capabilities that require a lot of attention. A kid that can't manipulate numbers is at a huge disadvantage these days and instead of saying  maths is not his forte as it were, the best contribution  would be to really focus on working with those kids.

 

So..numeracy, literacy, communications.

 

It's been a while since I was called young! I used to get embarrassed by the parents who said I looked too young to teach their kids, now I'd happily take it!

 

Children are massively different than they were a long time ago and self-confidence has a lot to do with it. The sad fact is that they just don't respect literacy and numeracy skills in the way that we did. How often do you genuinely see somebody adding or multiplying numbers without the aid of technology? Yet we tell our children that it is the be all and end all. Outside of school kids just don't use written calculation skills anything like as often as we did.

 

It's perhaps better indicated through literacy. Spelling is worse than ever but kids genuinely aren't that bothered if they spell it wrong, it's a little embarrassing but it's hardly life or death, especially if you can read it. This is probably multiplied for grammar. I'll admit I've been picked up on grammar before and genuinely not seen where they were coming from. I didn't see why I couldn't start or end a sentence with a certain word, it just seemed nitpicky rather than having any actual value.  Children have the self-confidence to view it in this way, it's very much a 'what's the point?' opinion and in some ways they have a point. History is another good example, if they have no interest in it, what use is knowing when Henry the VIII was born and what he did with his wives? Especially in a society that is obsessed with money and fame at any cost; priorities are different for children today.

 

That's not to say of course that there is nothing that education can do, it obviously has a place. In my biased opinion it does more than most ever realise but there are things I think we get wrong. Take calculations, children are baffled by a variety of methods to teach the same thing in Primary school. The logic is that each will find the one that works for them but in reality it confuses more than it helps. I believe in teaching them one method that they are confident at and introducing others only to children that can't use one.  It's worth pointing out that this sort of thing is very much down to government interference.


Edited by Maximus Decimus, 17 May 2013 - 07:39 AM.


#38 hindle xiii

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Posted 17 May 2013 - 07:42 AM

Can I just say, as someone who is a handful of years into their working life, that it doesn't matter how old you are, I've worked with plenty of thick people who are twice my age and plenty of people who are a similar age to myself and clever.


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#39 GeordieSaint

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Posted 17 May 2013 - 08:25 AM

It's perhaps better indicated through literacy. Spelling is worse than ever but kids genuinely aren't that bothered if they spell it wrong, it's a little embarrassing but it's hardly life or death, especially if you can read it. This is probably multiplied for grammar. I'll admit I've been picked up on grammar before and genuinely not seen where they were coming from. I didn't see why I couldn't start or end a sentence with a certain word, it just seemed nitpicky rather than having any actual value.  Children have the self-confidence to view it in this way, it's very much a 'what's the point?' opinion and in some ways they have a point. History is another good example, if they have no interest in it, what use is knowing when Henry the VIII was born and what he did with his wives? Especially in a society that is obsessed with money and fame at any cost; priorities are different for children today.

 

I agree with everything you have said in this post and the previous one. However, here for me lies the crux of the problem. The kids priorities are different nowadays but the reality of adult life hasn't changed. In order to get a good job and be successful within that career, you still need good literacy and numeracy skills and a broad education base. In order for the country to be economically competitive, we still need a well educated population with literacy and numeracy skills at the core. We are falling so far behind other nations in regards to education standards, it has a negative effect on this country attracting investment and forcing business to look elsewhere. I think Gove is correct in attempting to solve this issue.


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#40 gingerjon

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Posted 17 May 2013 - 08:58 AM

Can I just say, as someone who is a handful of years into their working life, that it doesn't matter how old you are, I've worked with plenty of thick people who are twice my age and plenty of people who are a similar age to myself and clever.

 

So what you're saying is: people are people?

 

I find this hard to believe.


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